State of barq - September 2022

What’s been going on @ barq?

An image from Notion

It’s been almost 6 months since we’ve released barq 1.0. We thought it'd be nice to make a blog post about the things barq has done and the challenges we’ve had since the first release on March 31st.

Even though I think we managed to release many cool new features since our 1.0 release, we are often asked why development is slow. This blog post will give some insight in what we’ve been doing for the last six months, and what our plans are for the coming months.

👀 Meet the barq team

An image from Notion

After our release we quickly found out that we needed more people to help keep barq running.

Over the past 6 months we’ve started onboarding new team members to help out with moderation, support, platform development and programming. Right now our team consists of 18 members already!

An overview of all team members and their roles will be listed on the barq website when the new website releases (which will happen very soon, I promise 🙏).

When we first expanded, it was a bit of a challenge to make sure that everyone was properly onboarded. This meant that our existing team members had to work on limited capacity while the new members were steaming up. And when you're already working at full capacity, it's challenging for everyone involved!

Barq is also a very international platform, adding more challenges to the mix. Our current team is located all over the world, making it challenging to set up meetings and keep communication going.

We have embraced Discord for day-to-day communication and we’ve set up Notion to log all the things we’ve been doing. We’re still not up to speed, but it's going better every day 😃

Please remember that our entire team consists of volunteers who work on barq in their own time - for free. We create barq because we have a love for the furry fandom and we want to give something back for the community ❤️

🚀 Platform Stability

Since barq 1.0 launched we experienced a constant growth in our user base. As of writing we have over 74.000 registered users on the app, generating over 1100 API requests per minute, 24/7. While the app grew, parts of our initial back-end (servers, API) architecture began to slow down. Since our public release we’ve spent a big chunk of our development capacity on improving our back-end.

At barq we use microservices to keep the back-end running. All these small services had their own code bases and repositories, making it difficult to maintain for thus slowing down our developers. In July we’ve started moving over all our microservices to a single monorepo. We’ve just finished the migration this month and we can already see huge improvements in development speed and developer experience.

We’ve also been spending a lot of time improving our AWS usage. At first we’ve spent over $1000 per month on hosting Barq. Last month the costs were already down to $500 with no impact on operational performance.

All these needed stability improvements meant that we couldn’t spend a lot of time on delivering new features. However, it will hopefully lead to a better experience for you, with more stability improvements (and bug fixes) coming soon

💸 The battle against scammers

An image from Notion

Since our public release we’ve been in a constant battle against scammers. We have been, and are currently still, developing solutions to make it harder for scammers to make use of our platform. I can’t share what we’ve been implementing (since that would make it easier for them to circumvent our systems), but I can tell that we are seeing that our systems are working 😃

The thing that saddens me and the rest of the team the most, is that these scammers are no automated bot accounts: they are real persons. I find it very sad to see real persons create accounts with stolen art, made up biographies and fake interests… only to scam people in the furry fandom ☹️

This issue isn’t isolated - Howlr told us they were targeted by these people too, and that they become quite clever in looking more and more like real users over time.

It also angers me that we had to spend a lot of our time creating all these systems and moderation the spam reports. We have a lot of plans for barq and I rather see us spend our time on new features and improvements.

I do want to thank all of our users who’ve helped us by reporting fake profiles, reporting stolen art and sharing information about the scammers they’ve encountered. It really helped us a lot ❤️. Please keep reporting them, we do take action.

🛣 Development Roadmap

An image from Notion

In the last few months we’ve also been working on the development roadmap. We have collected a lot of feedback from the community and tried to bundle the ideas into projects. Currently we have well over 100 projects on the backlog and we haven’t gotten around ranking most of them.

We did pick a few projects that we want to deliver in the upcoming months:

Spam reduction

We have been working on this for the last few months and we are almost done with this project. We’ve implemented a lot of new admin tools, implemented a profile approval system (useful when we get raided in the future) and we are almost done with a karma system. More details about this in a future blog :3

App polishing & Chat

The next very important and much needed project will be bug fixes / app polishing. Since the first release we’ve been adding a lot of new functionality, but haven’t gotten around polishing existing functionality. We want to spend some time improving the user gallery, image uploading, profile management, creating of groups, events, setting your location, chatting etc. When this project is done we hope the app will feel native and “finished”.

The most important feature to be polished in this project is the chat. Every time I look at the current chat I am ashamed for how bad it is currently and I can’t wait to fix it. The chat will have real-time updates, chat requests and a lot of UX improvements 🎉

Blocking / hiding

The block (or hide) functionality was added in one of our earliest releases and hasn’t seen any updates since. We want to make the blocking functionality more clear and make it easier to block users, images, communities etc. We also want to extend the reach of the blocking function so you won’t be confronted with blocked content in things like your activity feed and communities.


YES! We will improve the search functionality. The search will have many new fields you can search by and it will be much faster. You will be able to search by interests, species and within communities and events. There will also be many improvements to the search in the AD section of the app.

Moderation Center

We want to make it easier to communicate with the barq moderation team. Currently all communication is done via email and that’s not ideal. We want to make it easier to provide additional information when you’ve reported something and make it easier to appeal to moderation decisions.

… and much more

We do have many other projects on the roadmap and we will share more details in later blog posts. We are also working on the official roadmap for the coming years. We will post that roadmap on the website as soon as it’s ready 😃

(Sneak peak) other projects include:

❤️ Thanks to all of you

An image from Notion

That’s it so far for this blog post. I want to thank all of you for joining barq, providing feedback and helping us create something amazing. I want to give a special thanks to all of our Patreon and Ko-Fi supporters who’ve helped make this all possible!

While writing this blog post I found that we should do this way more regularly. I will try to create more blog posts about upcoming features, things we’ve been doing and difficult problems we’re encountering.

Thanks for reading and see you in the next blog :3